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Barrie Central debate brings candidates to students

Bob Bruton

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner

An all-candidates debate for the riding of Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte was held at Barrie Central Collegiate Tuesday morning. From left to right, independent candidate Ram Faerber, the Green Party's Marty Lancaster, Alex Nuttall of the Conservatives, Darren Roskam of the Libertarians, the Liberals' Brian Tamblyn and Ellen White of the New Democrats fielded questions from students ahead of the Oct. 19 federal election.
BOB BRUTON/BARRIE EXAMINER

An all-candidates debate for the riding of Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte was held at Barrie Central Collegiate Tuesday morning. From left to right, independent candidate Ram Faerber, the Green Party's Marty Lancaster, Alex Nuttall of the Conservatives, Darren Roskam of the Libertarians, the Liberals' Brian Tamblyn and Ellen White of the New Democrats fielded questions from students ahead of the Oct. 19 federal election. BOB BRUTON/BARRIE EXAMINER

Teenage questions, adult answers from politicians.

That's sums up Tuesday morning's all-candidates meeting at Barrie Central Collegiate for the new riding of Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte ahead of the Oct. 19 federal election.

It involved candidates Alex Nuttall of the Conservatives, the Liberals' Brian Tamblyn, Ellen White of the New Democrats, the Green Party's Marty Lancaster, independent Ram Faerber and Darren Roskam of the Libertarians.

It also involved an auditorium nearly full of high school students with questions – including whether the candidates would vote along party lines, or according to their constituents' wishes, should they be different.

“We (the Greens) do not whip votes,” Lancaster said of partisan voting in the House of Commons.

“I'm not going to go along to get along,” Nuttall said.

“I'm not beholden to anyone,” said Tamblyn, noting he supports more free votes in Parliament.

“We want to consult the people in our riding,” White said.

Faerber, who ran for Barrie mayor last year, wasn't buying it.

“MPs in the House of Commons have to do what their leader tells them to do or they will get kicked out (of the party),” he said. “We need a few independents in Ottawa.”

The candidates were also asked their opinion on Canada's prostitution laws.

Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, outlawed the buying, but not the selling of sex. It also gave police new powers to prosecute those who advertise sex work and those who exploit or otherwise make money off sex workers.

Its goal was to reduce the demand for prostitution by 'discouraging entry into it, deterring participation in it and ultimately abolishing it to the greatest extent possible.'

Roskam said prostitution was “a victimless crime.”

Tamblyn said the Liberals aren't proposing any dramatic changes to the current laws, while White said more needs to be done.

“We need to look at protecting Canadian women,” she said.

Faerber said education is the key.

“Uneducated people make the wrong decisions,” he said.

Nuttall backs the thinking behind Bill C-36, and wants to discourage human trafficking.

“We need to focus on the 'johns'. . . not go after those in the (sex) trade,” he said.

There were also student questions about protecting the environment, funding women's shelters and legalizing marijuana.

But the candidates still managed to tell the students why they should vote for them.

“This country cannot survive another four years of a Stephen Harper (Conservative) government,” Tamblyn said.

“I'm not trying to sell you things that are good or bad for you, I'm trying to do things that need to be done,” Lancaster said.

White said the NDP will look beyond Canada's borders.

“We recognize there are so many wonderful people coming to Canada,” she said. “Canada's needs to make room for people in crisis.”

Nuttall said one of his priorities will be to continue to look after the health of Lake Simcoe.

“To make sure our federal government is at the table, to make sure Lake Simcoe is going in the right direction,” he said.

Faerber gave the independent candidate pitch.

“A vote for me is a vote for you,” he said.

Roskam's Libertarian approach is for far less government and spending, including the CBC.

“We don't have any time for stuff we can live without,” he said.

During his closing remarks, Roskam chose not to say much but instead played the harmonica – to considerable applause from the students and some amusement from the other candidates.

The same five candidates are scheduled for another debate Wednesday evening at Georgian College, Alumni Hall or 'K' building, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Barrie Central Collegiate's student vote takes place Friday, Oct. 16. All of the school’s students, Grade 9-12, were in the W.A. Fisher Auditorium on Tuesday morning.

It is likely the last all-candidates debate at Barrie Central, which is scheduled to close in June, 2016.

bob.bruton@sunmedia.ca